Arsenal legend Tony Adams: I wanted West Ham job, but went from resigning to becoming Portsmouth manager: It was a mess - but I'm proud to be associated with the club

His resignation had been filed and, in his mind, his time at Pompey was at a close.

By Jordan Cross
Friday, 6th May 2022, 2:30 pm
Updated Friday, 6th May 2022, 3:16 pm

Little did Tony Adams know, however, the Fratton fun and games was just beginning

Fourteen years on from his ill-fated tenure as Blues boss, the Arsenal and England great returned to PO4 last weekend as guest speaker at the club’s end-of-season awards.

And Adams revealed he was actually intending to leave the club he’d joined as Harry Redknapp’s assistant in 2006, two years later.

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But behind the scenes, the first signs of the club’s descent into administration were beginning to exhibit themselves.

The money was beginning to dry up and that led to Redknapp’s departure for Spurs, with Adams becoming his successor as Pompey’s fall from grace began to accelerate.

‘I’d actually resigned,’ said Adams when speaking at the awards evening.

‘Harry had heard some bad rumours about me going to Sheffield Wednesday with Milan (Mandaric), who’s an old pal.

Tony Adams in his time as Pompey boss

‘The West Ham job was available and I fancied going for it.

‘Harry rubbished that and put it away, though. He told me I couldn’t go, but I said I’d had two brilliant years here, it’d been great but it was time to move on and I was maybe going to go for a number one job somewhere.

‘He said no, but we were having murders that pre-season.

‘Big Peter Crouch was coming into training every day saying he didn’t like it.

Tony Adams at Pompey's end-of-season awards.

‘It was falling apart and he (Redknapp) could tell. He knew he was going to Spurs and was away.

‘Peter (Storrie) then took me into the office and said “well you take the team, you have a go”.

‘I said to him he had my resignation in the drawer! He said not to worry about that and he showed me the plans - the GREAT plans for a stadium and training ground!’

Adams’ first game in charge was a 1-1 draw with Fulham, ahead of him being officially confirmed in the role the following day.

Soon though the gravity of the club’s situation became clear as he was summoned to meet owner Sacha Gaydamak in London.

And the problems only deepened from there in a four-month stay before a sacking which came as a blessed relief to the 55-year-old.

Adams said: ‘I took the job and a month into it I met the owner up at Barclay Square - and he told me we needed £6m or we’d go into administration by the end of January.

‘So I rang Harry and told him he had to take Jermain Defoe, please take him for £6m!

‘He took Jermain, so he did do something for the club!

‘We balanced the books in the transfer window but it was falling apart from top to bottom.

‘I told Peter (Storrie) this was not my mess, this was not my mess to clear up.

‘I told him he needed to do something, so he rang me on my son’s birthday and said “you’re sacked!”.

‘I said “thank you”, I was relieved, I’ve got to say. It was a complete mess and such a shame.’

With just two wins from 16 league games, Adams’ win percentage as Pompey boss is the worst in recent memory.

His time at the helm did take in the never-to-be-forgotten night against AC Milan in the Uefa Cup at Fratton Park, however.

It may have been a largely dark period, but his association with the Blues is still one Adams is proud of.

He added: ‘I was in charge for 16 games and we won two of them - but we never went into the bottom three, I was proud of that!

‘The writing was on the wall though, and it wasn’t my mess. I felt I needed to move on.

‘It’s such a shame because it’s the fans who get it.

‘I moved on to Azerbaijan for six years and then had two years in China, but I’ll never forget “play up Pompey, Pompey play up”.

‘It’s a fantastic football club, it was a pleasure and I’m proud to have been a part of it.’